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Pregame

®

A letter from Bill Huddleston

4 | Picture This

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

VYPE photographers capture the shining moments of high school sports action in Three Rivers with action from the baseball and softball diamonds, soccer fields and golf course.

8 | Like Father Like Son Muskogee boys’ tennis may well see history repeat itself this spring including Rusty and Shan Bradley.

20 | 3rd Time...A Charm? After back to back trips to the state finals, the Eufaula Ironheads look to complete “unfinished business” and claim the Class 3A baseball state championship in 2012.

High school sports in Oklahoma go into overdrive as the spring seasons begin with athletes in Three Rivers preparing for the upcoming state championship events involving baseball, softball, tennis, golf and track. It’s great to be outside again.

Will the 3rd time be the charm for the Eufaula Ironheads to complete unfinished business in search of the Class 3A baseball championship? Girls’ golf success includes talented individual stroke play along with Three Rivers’ teams atop the scoreboard. A family affair between the coach/player duo of Rusty and Shan Bradley brings an opportunity for a repeat tennis title for the father/son combo at Muskogee High School Got VYPE? If you’re an iPhone user, you’ll want to download the easy to use VYPE application to keep up to date with the latest in high school sports including schedules, scores and more. Join our team and update your team’s results after every contest. Check out VYPEOK.com…Our new website features day to day sports highlights along with live-stream broadcasts of sports action including baseball, slow pitch softball and much more. It’s just one more example of our efforts to bring the VYPE nation the most comprehensive coverage of high school sports in the Oklahoma. Visit us at www.vypeok.com.

We’re in the Game

26 | Take Me Out To The

Bill Huddleston

Ballgame

Wister returns the favor by winning the 30th annual LeFlore County baseball tournament title winning on the road against county rival Spiro Bulldogs.

Trinity Media Group, LLC 6737 S. 85th E. Ave • Tulsa, OK 74133 All rights reserved. Publisher Austin Chadwick Editorial Director Brad Heath Market Director Bill Huddleston Graphic Design Leah Weigle

30 | FORE!

Contributing Writers Brad Heath, Bill Huddleston, Ben Johnson, Austin Chadwick

Competition on the links continues to produce individual and team championships for girls’ golfers in Three Rivers.

Contributing Photographers John Hasler, Ruby Dean-Captured Memories Photography, Rhonda Hansen Photography, Bradley Cox & Anna Newton-Eufaula Schools, Von Castor, Mecie Gauntt Photography, Vicki Reece-Westville Schools, Rip Stell, Brett Rojo, Craig Hall, Ron Goad Photography.com, Bill Huddleston, Ben Johnson-Tahlequah Daily Press, Erin Parks, Michael Mayberry, Kevin Bishop, Hilldale Athletics, Blunck’s Photography. Contact Information Website: www.VYPEOK.com Phone: 918.495.1771 Fax: 918.495.1778 Advertising: bill.huddleston@vype.com Phone 918.869.8212 Subscriptions: 918.495.1771

Next Issue... Diamond Dolls. Three Rivers teams continue to be among the best slow-pitch softball teams in the state.

VYPE is published monthly by Trinity Media Group, LLC. Reproductions in whole or in part without permission are prohibited. VYPE is not responsible for the return of unsolicited artwork, photography or manuscripts and will not be responsible for holding fees or similar charges. All digital submissions and correspondences will become property of VYPE.

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F E AT U R E

Photo By John Hasler

VYPE photographers capture the shining moments during Three Rivers action

Photo By John hasler

Photo By John hasler

Bulldogs Ring Bling - Jeremy Applegate, Kevin Peterson, Heath Wilson, Taylor Bosco, dillan robertson, daniel brown

Whitney Whitmore - Tahlequah 4

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Shaylee Rowland - Muskogee Katie Tipton - Muldrow


Photo By John hasler

Photo By John Hasler

Photo By Erin Parks

PICTURE THIS

Photo by Von Castor

Ajee Coley - Panola Bearcats

Erica Casey - Vian Alex Rhodes - Sallisaw

Photo By Bill Huddleston

Zach Cobler #17 - Fort Gibson Jose Farias #3 - Heavener

Jaden Dishroon - Hulbert Photo By Craig Hall -LeFlore County Journal

Morgan Springsteen # 19 - Muskogee

Ashley Beaver - Muskogee

Photo By John Hasler

Photo By Von Castor

Colby Mullens #1 - Hilldale Taylor Bosco #11 - Wagoner

Jace Pitchford - Poteau APRIL 2012

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Photo By Von Castor

Photo By John Hasler

PICTURE THIS

Taylor Gandara #6 - Fort Gibson Monica Otero #13 - Heavener

Jerrica Robison # 15 - Pocola Baylee Ratliff #1 - Sequoyah Tahlequah

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Jacob McAnally # 13 - Muskogee

Photo By Vicki Reece

Photo By Von Castor

Photo By John Hasler

Kailey Barnes and Lindsey Yarberro - Roland Bailey Hendrickson - Muskogee

Jaci Blackwood # 14 - Westville Hailey Cochran - Stilwell


F A M I LY A F F A I R

RUSTY BRADLEY

SHAN BRADLEY

Photos By John Hasler

S

ports at all levels of play have well recognized family relationships between father and sons, coach and player. At Muskogee High School, the daily 'family reunion' is more than a game for Rusty and Shan Bradley.

As a senior at Muskogee High School in 1976, the elder Bradley was known as a 'scrapper' on the tennis courts while capturing a

state championship singles title in his senior season. Following his collegiate tennis career at the University of Tulsa, Bradley has been head coach at Muskogee High School for the last 21 seasons. As the 2012 campaign plays out between the lines, the personable head coach enjoys an opportunity to share his love for the game with his 'shadow' or for what many say is Rusty’s twin. “It’s a lot of fun coaching your son,” admits the proud father. “I’ve enjoyed this with both of my boys, Russ and Shan. “It’s been a challenge at times just because his name is Bradley. Shan has tagged along with my teams since his childhood. I’ve watched with anticipation of this season because I thought Shan had an opportunity to become a really good player just because of his athleticism.”

“Dad took me with him on road trips since I was old enough to swing a racket,” admits Shan, now a junior at Muskogee. “It’s been my dream to play Roughers’ tennis and for dad. We’re listening to some of the same ol’ songs like 'Taxi' by Harry Chapin that he listened to as a player. Now days, we roll into a tournament with 'It’s Tricky' by Run DMC.” “For sure, everyone knows here come the Roughers when our van drives up in the parking lot,” admits the coach.

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“People tell me we’re alike in a lot of ways, chuckled the younger Bradley. “We enjoy the competitive spirit of the game. But, make no mistake I’m the better player.”


F A M I LY A ffair “I’m a 'has been' now as a player,” admitted Rusty pointing to both knees scarred from surgeries. “In my prime, all I’ll say is that we’ll let Shan believe he’s the better player. His strokes are more polished than mine were back in the day. But truthfully, we take the same approach to playing the game. It’s never over ‘til it’s over, one point, one set, one match.” The duo agrees on their reasons for choosing their favorite tennis player. “I like Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick because of their spirited approach to competition,” noted Shan.

“Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe are my favorites because of their personality on the court as well as their championship skills,” referenced the coach. The father and son’s ferocious spirit continues beyond the tennis courts. “I’m better throwing a football, and playing basketball,” boasted Shan. “I own him in ping pong, bocce ball, checkers, chess and golf,” boasted the elder Bradley.

“Golf, I’ll give it to him, for now. Hey dad, want to take a test for me today at school?” When asked if he could pass the exam, coach Bradley offered, “No comment.”

Playing number two singles for the Roughers this spring, Shan has been part of five tournament team championships and cherishes the experience dad brings to their strategy conversations to bolster the younger netter’s confident approach. “He knows what he’s talking about and I can trust what he says will work, on and off the court.” Coaching your son and playing for your father presents unique opportunities for the Muskogee pair.

“The hardest thing is living up to the potential,” said Shan, noting the success dad had as a player in his prime. “But that makes it easier too because everybody knows me just because of the family name.”

“I know that people are going to say that I treat Shan different from the other players,” admits coach Bradley. “I try not to show him any favoritism. It’s something we talk about as a team with every member of the squad. Our players and parents know that my approach to coaching the team is that every match is equally as important as the other.” “I watch Shan’s matches from a distance because I don’t want him to feel any added pressure,” confirmed the coach. “It’s a lot harder watching your son play than I expected. Watching each point, every stroke, I have to catch myself and not run out there to offer advice. I let my assistant, Jared Callahan, spread the word. I want him to win every time he swings the racket, but if I run out there I know it would upset his apple cart.” “I know he’s always watching, even when he’s hunkered down behind the hedges,” winked Shan. “I don’t have to look too hard and of course, I can always hear him, even in his softest voice.”

The father son combination mirror one another in their preparation as the coach plays left handed with well-placed points

during practice tie-breaker sessions against the youthful and aggressive approach of the younger Bradley’s right hand.

“When we play against each other, it’s most definitely game on," said Rusty. “I’ll try to run him side to side to improve his game. But, dad gummit, his drop shots wear me out.” “Playing against dad’s left hand has made me a much better player,” said Shan.

The coach of the Roughers hopes the early season success will continue for his son with an opportunity to repeat the state championship won by dad in 1976.

Of course I do,” remarked Rusty. “Every father or coach wants the best for the players. I think our whole team has a chance to do something special this season.”

Undeniably, the relationship is special for the Bradleys. And, for Muskogee tennis, it’s a chance for history to repeat itself. Bringing true the adage…like Father…like Son. APRIL 2012

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VYPE caught up with Haleigh Cox of Hilldale High School to answer questions for Triple Play. After getting her answers, we posed the questions to Hornets girls golf coach Oren Sikes before asking Haleigh’s mom, Kimberly Castor, for her answers. Who has the best game plan? Hilldale High School junior Haleigh Cox is a member of the Hornets girls’ golf team. Following last season’s success on the links as a sophomore, Cox looks to guide her team back to the Class 4A state tournament again this spring playing. After high school, Cox wants to attend the University of Tulsa and pursue a career as a dental hygienist.

Haleigh Cox Hilldale Golf

Kimberly Castor Haleigh's Mom

What is Haleigh's favorite subject in school?

English

English

Computers

What is something Haleigh would never eat?

Sushi

Seafood

Liver

Is Haleigh a comedian or politician?

Comedian

Comedian

Comedian

Who is Haleigh's favorite music entertainer?

Carrie Underwood

Miranda Lambert

The Band Perry

Who is Haleigh's dream date?

Matthew McConaughey

Tatum Channing

Alan Carrier

Is Haleigh's bedroom clean & neat, organized chaos or disaster zone?

Clean & Neat

Disaster Zone

Clean & Neat

What reality TV show would Haleigh win?

The Voice

Survivor

The Bachelor

Does Haleigh prefer cookies, cake or ice cream?

Cookies (Oatmeal Raisin)

Cake

Cake

Does Haleigh do her homwork every night, last minute or always late?

Last Minute

Last Minute

Last Minute

Would Haleigh rather give a speech, sing a song or dance?

Sing A Song

Sing A Song

Sing A Song

5 Correct Out of 10 Coach O - Wins 1 Up!

4 Correct Out of 10 Back To The Practice Tee!

TOTAL POINTS: 10

10

Oren Sikes

Hornets' Girls Coach

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F E AT U R E

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Character is a combination of qualities that distinguishes one person or group from another. Yates Auto Mall celebrates achievements of local high school athletes by presenting the monthly “Character Counts Award.” The true mark of success is more than just wins and losses. For Jessi Venable, a junior at Muskogee High School, success and character are synonymous with her efforts everyday. “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always tried to just do the right thing,” smiled Venable. “My mom and dad taught me and my sister the importance of this because you never know who’s watching, whether you’re with friends or by yourself.” Determination is often associated when describing Venable. “Without a doubt, Jessi is determined to achieve her goals,” confirmed Shane Stewart, one of Venable’s instructors at Muskogee High School. “She’s soft spoken and humble but she’s also a fierce competitor. Whether she’s in the classroom or on the field, Jessi is a winner.” “Its jut another way I try to do the right thing,” admitted Venable. “I try to prepare in advance. I’ll study a week before instead of waiting until the last night to cram for a test. I’ve learned that off-season training pays dividends come game time. I want to let others see the importance of hard work and by staying positive no matter the situation, everything will work out all right.” “Because of her work ethic and attitude, Jessi is a kid that everyone looks up to,” said Keith Coleman, softball coach for the Lady Roughers. “She’s determined to help everyone succeed.” “She’s well respected by everyone,” said Coleman. “She’s the person that if you ask everyone on our softball team, they’ll tell you everyone loves Jessi. If you ask her teachers, it’s the same, everyone loves Jessi.” “You just have to know who you are and be yourself,” said Venable. “We’re all role models for someone. That’s why helping others succeed is so important to me.” “Relationships are important. My friends are always there to support me,” said Venable confidently referring to those closest to her. “We all have to support one another like we’re one big family. I know they’ll be there for me, I want to do the same and just keep a positive approach to any situation.” The future beams bright with opportunity for Venable, who hopes to one day pursue a career working in special education. “I enjoying helping people achieve their dreams no matter their circumstances.” “A lot of things can be said about Jessi,” said Coleman. “But if I had a daughter, I’d want my girl to be just like Jessi.” Trustworthy, determined, enthusiastic, and loyal are all traits used by friends and strangers to describe Jessi Venable. With these qualities along with her hard work and pleasing smile, Jessi Venable is destined for success no matter the path traveled.

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1212


POWERED BY FOSTER-PETERING FUNERAL HOME

F-C-A Athlete

of the Month STEPHEN ALLEN Muskogee High School

The game of golf can bring out the best and worst in a person, especially when the ball doesn’t go where you intended. Even during one of those bad rounds, Stephen Allen knows it’s just one of life’s challenges.

“It’s just like life, some times you play good and some days you don’t,” smiled Allen, a senior on the varsity golf team at Muskogee High School. Allen has qualified for the Class 6A state golf tournament the past two years and seeks a third straight appearance this spring. “That’s when I can rely upon my strength in God and try to honor Him even in my losses. When I can have my own worship time by singing a song, everything seems to turn out all right.” Allen grew up in the church as a “preacher’s kid” and cherishes that opportunity for helping him discover his own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “People expect things, especially if you’re a preacher’s kid. And, people are watching your every move to see if you make a mistake. I just try to let God use me whatever way necessary in everything I do, and try to be a role model for others.” “I know some people think Christianity isn’t any fun,” smiled Allen. “There are so many things you can do to have fun and live for Christ simultaneously. I try to surround myself with friends that will be a positive influence. And, look for opportunities to share my faith.”

“With Christ as your guide, you can enjoy life’s challenges,” nodded Allen, “no matter whether you’re hitting good shots or bad. I try to live for Him in every moment and surrender to what God wants for me.” Colossians 3:17 (NIV): And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


F E AT U R E

Presented by

®

The crack of the bat…the ball popping in the leather glove…the umpire’s call…”Safe”…the sights and sounds of spring sports around the baseball and softball fields. It’s time to throw out the first pitch…VYPE Three Rivers presents this month’s VYPE FAB FIVE as we rank the top five baseball and softball teams in search of a state championship.

1. Eufaula—The Ironheads combination of hitting and pitching has head coach Preston James squad ready for the playoffs as a quintet of seniors including Daniel Salters, Saylor McLish, Brady Colbert, Braddock Dobbs and Dylan Helms lead the charge.

The VYPE Fab Five ranking may well see some changes as the season continues and local teams settle the question of which teams are the best choice for a solid gold “championship season.” You can be a part of the VYPE Fab Five rankings by submitting your vote by email: editor@vype.com.

2. Wister—Fresh off winning the LeFlore County Tournament championship, Clint Crane, Cody Luna and Cody Turnipseed and teammates have the Wildcats playing near playoff form seeking a repeat of last year’s state title. 3. Hilldale—The Hornets balanced pitching and hitting are nearing playoff form with pack plenty of punch Hunter Harrison, Jarrard Poteete, Dalton Cunningham, Seth Boling and Scott Rodden making Hilldale tough to beat. 4. Stilwell—The pitching of lefthander Gabe Coldwell and right hander Tyler Fourkiller plus the switch-hitting of Austin Catron have the Pirates playing at the top of their game for coach Tim Barton in his 28th year. 5. Wagoner—One game at a time, the Bulldogs continue their climb to the top with Taylor Bosco, Tyler Claunch, Dylan Cannon, Wyatt Grooms and Justin Ferrell anchoring the lineup. On Deck Tahlequah - Spiro - Warner

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1. Tahlequah—Randee O’Donnell, Kaitlenn Rippetoe, Jessica Blalock, Jenna Reed and Whitney Whittmore are part of the reasons why the Tigers appear to have the right combination of defense and offense to make a run at the Class 6A title. 2. Muskogee—Long ball power is evident in the lineup for the Roughers with Shaylee Rowland, Jessi Venable, Paige Gann and Coco Epps going yard while Hannah Alexander, Nia Maxwell and Kelsey McClure deliver timely hits. 3. Oktaha—Bailey Masterson continues to provide long ball power with teammates Lauryne Dester, Caitlyn Sikes, Kylie Weidel and Shelby Gamble hitting the gaps to create scoring opportunities for the Tigers. 4. Warner—The Eagles continue to get solid performance in the circle from Brandy Center and timely hitting from Brooke Stidham and Kristen Lane as the playoffs approach. 5. Poteau—Coach Misty Collins squad continues to battle a talent laden 6A lineup but refuse to give up hopes for possible playoff run to the state tournament as Natalee King and RaeLynn Caldwell top the lineup card. Outside Looking In Sequoyah Tahlequah - Vian - Red Oak

Baseball & Softball teams in Three Rivers Territory…are built TOUGH… Just like the Ford F-150 truck from Stuteville Ford in Tahlequah


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Jadon Davenport

Logan Byrd

Lukas Etchison Tyler Tustin

Landon Decker

Coach Darrell Hume

All-VYPE Wrestling

Logan Byrd - Stilwell Landon Decker - Vian Lukas Etchison - Muskogee Tustin Tyler - Poteau Jeff Byrd - Sallisaw Rhett Leach - Sallisaw Jadon Davenport - Sallisaw Syngent Childress - Vian Jacobee Smith - Muskogee Tre Locust - Vian Chetan Munsell - Muskogee Travis Greer - Wagoner Hestin Lammons - Tahlequah

Wrestler of the Year Logan Byrd - Stilwell

Team of the Year

Sallisaw Black Diamonds

Coach of the Year Darrell Hume - Sallisaw

All-VYPE Swimming

Hannah Cantrell - Fort Gibson Leslie White - Fort Gibson Hunter Jaynes - Fort Gibson Kyla Martin - Fort Gibson Kinsey Cook - Fort Gibson Whitney Stroup - Fort Gibson Brandon Walker - Fort Gibson Derek Cookson - Fort Gibson James Huggins - Fort Gibson Dalton Martin - Fort Gibson Chris Huggins - Fort Gibson Myles Wood - Fort Gibson

Swimmer of the Year

Hannah Cantrell - Fort Gibson

Team of the Year Fort Gibson Girls

Coach of the Year

Connie Dean - Fort Gibson

Coach Connie Dean Hannah Cantrell Brandon Walker

Leslie White


Coach Ed Lewis Blake Pittman

Jacob Richardson

Cameron Powell

Dalton Cefalone Seth Youngblood

Girls Basketball

Boys Basketball

Jodi Glover - Fort Gibson Cydney Dillard- Central Sallisaw Chelsie Keys - Muskogee Julia Hill - Fort Gibson Pete Douglas - Oktaha Kelsey McClure - Muskogee Alyssa Banks - Eufaula Allison Arnall - Hulbert Whitney Brown - Oktaha Courtney Jones - Sequoyah Tahlequah Halee Sharp - Muldrow Megan Brown - Howe Casey Beaston - Tahlequah

Brooks Robertson - Roland Jacob Richardson - Porter Seth Youngblood - Roland Trevor Eubanks - Keys Dalton Cefalone - Haskell Blake Pittman - Oktaha Trey Slate - Gore Lain Wright - Tahlequah Nate Hamilton - Muldrow Garrett Lehnick - Gore Cameron Powell - Stilwell Erik Broadnax - Porter Tramal Ivy - Muskogee

Team of the Year

Team of the Year

Player of the Year

Player of the Year

Coach of the Year

Coach of the Year

Oktaha Lady Tigers

Roland Rangers

Jodi Glover

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Pete Douglas

Megan Brown Kelsey McClure

Chelsie Keys

Jodi Glover

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Coach Doyle Roland


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IronheadsOnTheTeeBox

Katie Smith captured the gold medal in the 800 meter run in competition the Beggs Invitational and earned a 4th place finish in the 400m event.

The Eufaula High School golf teams are busy preparing for the upcoming regional and state tournaments as the 2012 season heads down the final rounds.

The Class 3A regional meet for both teams is scheduled for April 28th with the State Championship set for May 4-5 in Ardmore.

Remember When?

Eufaula Lady Ironheads will be the host school for the Class 3A State Championships as the best in the state will converge on Fountainhead Golf Course May 2-3.

Coach C.D. Jamierson guided the 1922 Eufaula High School football team to a 7-3 record as James O’Reilly captained the Ironheads squad that outscored their opponents 188-63.

RunningFastandTurning HannahRippy Left on the Track

Members of the Eufaula girls and boys track teams continue to reach the medal stand this spring. The girls track team finished 5th at the Henryetta Invitational. Katie Smith captured the gold medal in the 800 meters and claimed silver in the 200 meter run with teammate Sadie Scott taking the bronze in the 200m. Cole Montgomery picked up a pair of silver medals by finishing second in the 1600 and 3200 meter run.

SaddieSCott

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A

fter back to back trips to the Class 3A state baseball championship game, the Eufaula Ironheads hope to trade a pair of silver slippers for gold in 2012.

This year’s group of five seniors made up a youthful team in 2010 that surprised the tournament field by advancing to the championship game. Without a senior on the roster, coach Preston James’ team refused to be overlooked. In the opening game, with then sophomore pitcher Brady Colbert on the mound, the Ironheads went 10 innings to defeat the top ranked Chandler Lions to take the first step toward the state finals. The Cinderella dream ended with a loss to Bethel in the championship contest.

Last year, with the entire lineup intact, the Ironheads made it back to the final eight teams in Class 3A chasing the baseball title. With a pair of wins, including a heart stopping bottom of the 7th inning victory over Jones in the semi-finals, Eufaula’s dream was spoiled by the Verdigris Cardinals in the championship clash. The taste of a championship has set the table for the 2012 squad

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to finally win the McIntosh County school’s first baseball championship. The experience of five seniors along with another group of talented underclassmen has expectations at a fevered pitch. “The first time was a surprise, because of our youth, we weren’t even expected have a winning season,” said James referencing the Ironheads 28-13 record. “The kids showed the kind of heart and determination they possess and wouldn’t give in.”

Saylor McClis h

“Last year, expectations were sky high,” admits James. “We had everyone back in the lineup and believed we were supposed to win. Unfortunately for the kids, we brought home silver again.” Eufaula finished the season with 30 wins and only four losses.


F E AT U R E Brady Colbert

Braddock Dobbs

The 2012 lineup card includes five seniors leading the way for the Ironheads. Brady Colbert, Daniel Salters, Dylan Helms, Saylor McClish and Braddock Dobbs have Eufaula fans believing this will be the year. “Because of those five kids experience and the contribution of our younger kids, I think overall we may be a better unit,” nodded James. “This kind of kids, you don’t find them very often. Talent and competitiveness along with it that don’t like to lose, don’t want to lose and know how to win make our seniors special. It’s made a whole other element for our younger players to feed upon. We're a better hitting team than last year and we’ve still got good pitching. The experience gives us an added ingredient to gain a competitive edge.” One would expect the success on the diamond would add more pressure this season. Yet, James keeps telling his players to live the moment. Since the beginng of the year, I’ve tried to get them to just focus on playing everyday, one game at a time,” said James. “When you’ve got a group of seniors that has been there and has had this type of success, it puts pressure on you.”

The pressure is something that the quintet of seniors gladly accepts. Relying upon experience in the pressure situations, all five are focused on completing unfinished business.

“Since the final out last season, I’ve been thinking about it everyday,” said Daniel Salters, starting catcher as well as a member of the pitching rotation. “We’ve come so close the last two years. We’ve been working everyday since for this chance.” Salters, who signed to play college ball at Eastern State College, leads Eufaula in RBIs in addition to his consistency behind the plate. “The off-season went by so slow,” said Dylan Helms referencing the anticipation of his senior season. “We couldn’t wait ‘til January to get here so we could start getting ready. We know that we’ve got a big target on our back. It’s something, pressure to win it

this time, that all five of seniors understand we have to just play Ironhead baseball." Hitting in the lead off spot in the order, Helms swings the bat for a .443 average while leading his team in runs scored. Last fall, Helms decided to continue a Helms family tradition, when he inked a letter of intent to play in college at Seminole State College.

us

“It’s gone by really fast,” nodded pitching ace Dylan Helms Brady Colbert. “Almost like I pitched game one as a sophomore yesterday and now you wake up and it’s your senior season. We’ve talked about we have unfinished business, it’s our last chance do what we’ve been trying to do. All five of us seniors have been playing almost everyday, summer, fall plus the offseason, trying to get ready. I think its a mental thing as much as anything.” The right handed ace hurler for the Ironheads has recorded 70 wins in his three seasons on the mound. This year, Colbert has 100 strikeouts allowing just 15 walks while earning a 0.50 ERA. His numbers at the plate are equally strong with just 6 whiffs in 77 trips to the plate while hitting for a team high .456 average.

“Its been too fast for me,” admits Saylor McClish, who can play at a multitude of spots in the lineup including third base as well as on the hill giving Eufaula a third option in the pitching rotation. “Last year’s loss in the finals has been a driving force to our approach for this season. Not just for the seniors but everyone wearing the Ironhead uniform, including Coach James and Coach Green. I think we’re a lot better than the last two years. We’re all swinging the bat better top to bottom. The top six in the lineup are hitting the ball well putting APRIL 2012

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F E AT U R E

Daniel Salters

the ball in play and getting on base. The middle and bottom third of the order is moving runners and scoring runs. We’ve still got all our pitchers giving us a good rotation and depth.” McClish has allowed just 2 earned runs on the mound with a 0.53 ERA along h Colin Walc with his .318 average at the plate and dependable glove on the corner at third base defensively.

“It’s been a blur,” commented Braddock Dobbs referencing his career in the lineup for Eufaula. “When it all started, our entire team was made up of underclassmen. Then, last year, we had everyone back. And, after we scored the four runs in the last inning against Jones to win, it was heartbreaking to lose the last one. Since that night, it’s all we talk about. I believe it’s made all five of us (seniors) even more hungry to come back this year and do it again, only win it this time.” After a line shot down the 3rd baseline by Garrett Gilley, Dobbs raced home from first base to beat the tag and score the game winning run to reach the finals in 2011. This season, Dobbs’ on base percentage is part of the Ironheads offense that has improved its overall team batting average that has produced more runs per contest than a year ago. “I knew we had three strong arms taking the mound,” confirmed James pointing to the trio of Colbert, Salters and McClish. “This season, we’ve been able to get more production scoring runs by our improved hitting all the way through the order. Our younger kids are really helping out. Ronnie Hallum has been solid putting the ball in play. I can’t say enough about how important Trey Moore, Forest Paden and Colin Walch have been for us. 22

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While the seniors want to complete the job in their final campaign, they also want it for Ironheads’ fans. “They’re awesome every time we play,” grinned Salters when talking about the community support. “We go one or two hours away from home to play a game and our fans greet the bus. We’ll have more people there cheering for us than the home team. I know we want to win a championship for them as much as for ourselves." Whether or not Eufaula returns to the Class 3A state tournament won’t dampen the overall success accomplished by James’ first group of seniors. Now in his third season guiding the Ironheads baseball program, James took the reigns from former Ironheads coach Stacy Helms when this year’s seniors were sophomores, and admits winning it all would be special.

“There’s a scorecard full of emotions. There’s a special bond that every coach has with his first group of kids,” said James referring to this year’s team. “They’ve been so close. I want them to remember this for a lifetime. They have a career filled with memories and success for a lifetime already. I told them I want them to just play as long as you can and experience the thrill as many times as possible. We need to be sure that we’re playing at our best at the right time.” As the 2012 season enters the playoffs, Eufaula’s expectations are another state tournament berth and a goal of trading two runner-up trophies for a gold ball and championship ring. To the player on the team, the last thing they want to hear after the final inning of the season is the ever present chant from the bleachers… ’How ‘bout those Ironheads.”

Coach Prest on Coach Ryan James & Green


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non Dylan CHan SCHOOL

WAGONER HIG

Dylan Cann WAGONER H IG

on

H SCHOOL

A four ye ar starte r in base at Wago ball, Dyla ner High nC School. diamond , Cannon In additio annon is a senio r n to his tops the Honors G talents o 2012 cla PA and h n the ss with a as been year’s se n selected overall 4 nior clas as Valed .71 s. ictorian o f this Cannon achieved an ACT s of Mu Alp core of 3 ha Theta 1 and se (Honors Academic rves as p Math) as Team. A reside we m and Stud e m b e r of the Na ll as captain of th nt ent Coun tional Ho cil, Cann e classmate on was re nor Socie s as “Mo ty ce st Likely To Succe ntly selected by his ed.” Cannon serves a s Senior attend O Class offi klahoma cer Boys Sta member te last su and was chosen of the W to mmer. H agoner C e is also ounty Yo a uth Lead Following ership Pro graduati gram. on, Cann Universit on will a y on sch ttend Ok olarship Engineeri lahoma S and purs ng. tate ue a deg ree in Ch emical

Submit your nomination for the TTCU Academic Athlete of the Month to: nominations@vype.com


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SPOTLIGHT

The LeFlore County Baseball Tournament Craig Hall, LeFlore County Journal

Last year, Spiro went on the road to win the LeFlore County Baseball Tournament over Wister on the Wildcats’ home field. In 2011, coach John McAlester’s squad returned the favor as Wister defeated the Bulldogs at Spiro in the championship game of the 30th annual event by the final score of 5-3. The tournament title continued an excellent run in the LCT for the Wildcats having won the championship for the second time in three years after finished second in 2011 as well as three years ago.

Winning the tourney crown was far from easy as the Wildcats built a big lead in the early innings, then had to survive a furious Spiro comeback in the “if necessary game” to preserve the victory. Wister built a 5-1 lead after the first inning and would then call on the pitching of Cody Luman combined with some excellent defense to win. In the championship game, Luman struck out 10 batters and got the benefit of two double plays from his defense, including one to end the contest. Luman pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning with no outs. The biggest plays of the game came in the sixth frame. With Wister leading 5-3, Spiro scored two runs and had near misses for more as the Bulldogs had two runners thrown out at the plate. Wister catcher Clint Crane, the tournament MVP, made the first play by rushing to the backstop to field a wild pitch and throwing to Luman covering at home for the out. The second came when left fielder Caleb Hill rifled a strike to Crane at home to retire the Bulldogs’ Tyler Didway at the plate.

The tournament finals battle was the third time in three days the two teams squared off. In the winners’ bracket finals, Wister advanced with a 7-5 victory over Spiro. Facing elimination, coach Paul Croft’s squad overcame a defensive struggle against Pocola to win, 2-1, to 26

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move into the finals. In the must win game, Spiro used a grand slam from Colton Gamble to defeat the Wildcats, 9-4, setting up the title game.

Wister, which is the defending 2A spring baseball champions, overcame the loss of one of its top players, Tyler Gibson, to a shoulder surgery to win. Luman pitched Wister to wins over Poteau in the second round and Spiro in the finals while Crane got the win over Spiro in the first meeting and was 3-3 at the plate in the finals. Wister and Spiro placed 5 players on the All Tourney squad while Panama and Pocola, who finished third, had three players named to the team.

{ Cody Luman - Wister }

Wister pitcher Cody Luman delivers a pitch in the win over Poteau.


SPOTLIGHT

{ Cameron Cole - Spiro } Spiro second baseman Cameron Cole tosses a ball to first.

30th Annual LeFlore County Baseball Tournament All Tournament Team Clint Crane (MVP) - Wister Caleb Hill - Wister Logan Warren - Wister Cody Luman - Wister Dalton Brown - Wister Wilson Klutts - Poteau Blake Roley - Poteau Grant Severe - Pocola Tanner Francis - Pocola Ricky Manzano - Pocola

Joe T. Ross - Spiro Tyler Didway - Spiro Quaylon Griffin - Spiro Hunter Wilson - Spiro Colby Demato - Spiro Dale Pearson - Cameron Austin Standridge - Cameron Isaac Burris - Panama Tyler Sebo - Panama Buddy Rothermel - Panama

{ Clint Crane - Wister } Wister catcher Clint Crane tags out Spiro’s Tyler Didway at the plate.

{ Ricky Monzano - Pocola } Pocola’s Ricky Monzano (#22) throws out a runner from third.

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Athlete of the

Month

TYLER TUSTIN Poteau High SChool

One of a Kind…may be the best way to define Tyler Tustin of Poteau High School. The talented wrestler completed his junior season by winning a second consecutive Class 4A State Championship at 132 pounds, and was named the 4A State Tournament Outstanding Wrestler. “Tyler is more than just an outstanding wrestler,” said Chris Barbee, Poteau wrestling coach. “Tyler embodies everything you would want your son to be. He’s level headed, a solid student and a role model for others.” medal Tustin has compiled an overall 91-2 record the past two In winning a second straight gold medal, seasons. Combined with a freshman campaign that included a third place finish, Tustin has totaled 126 wins in three seasons on the mat for the Poteau Pirates.

Photos courtesy David Seeley, Poteau Daiily News

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A

s the seasons change to springtime, high school golfers from across Three Rivers head to the course. Girls’ golf continues to grow in popularity and the level of play reaches championship level.

In the opening weeks of the 2012 high school season, the names of golfers from Three Rivers continue to top the leader boards in tournament competition. Among the area’s best are Hannah Ward of Poteau, Kaleigh Campbell of Oktaha and Catrina Pearson of Muskogee, each who have captured medalist honors in tournament play. The Eufaula Lady Ironheads, paced by Faith Lasiter and Hannah Rippy, look to take advantage of local course knowledge when the Class 3A state tournament plays at Fountainhead Golf Course on Lake Eufaula.

By the time the second week in May rolls around, local fans can expect to see the names of golfers from Three Rivers at the top of the leaderboard.

{ Kaleigh Campbell - Oktaha }

{ Haleigh Cox - Oktaha } Cox, only a junior, is just one of the five reason's why Hilldale expects to be back in the Class 4A State Tournament. Coach Oren Sikes' squad returns all five golfers from last year's team that finished second in the team race.

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Photo By Von Castor

Photo By Bill Huddleston

Campbell, last year’s Class 2A State Champion medalist, burst onto the course winning four of her first six tournament including McAlester, Oktaha at Fountainhead, Hilldale and Liberty tournaments while finishing second in the her other two outings. Campbell and her teammates will be trying to win a fourth Class 2A championship in May.


Photo By Von Castor

{ Katrina Pearson - Muskogee }

{ Becca Harp - Roland }

Photo By Von Castor

Photo By Bill Huddleston

Photo By Von Castor

Pearson, now a senior at Muskogee, enters the 2012 spring tour seeking to qualify for the Class 6A state tournament for a fourth consecutive season. Evidence of her talents, Pearson claimed medalist honors at the Muskogee Invitational.

{ Hannah Ward - Poteau } After finishing her freshman season as a state runner-up in Class 4A, Ward, now a sophomore, broke out of the gate by winning her first two tournaments including Tahlequah at Cherry Springs and Coweta at Emerald Falls. After a pair of second place finishes, Ward has won two more first place finishes including the Lady Diamonds Invitational at Sallisaw along with Poteau Invitational. Ward and her teammates captured the team championship at Sallisaw.

{ Cheyenne Roach - Fort Gibson }

{ Faith Lasiter - Eufaula }

Photo By Bill Huddleston

Photo By Von Castor

Photo by Von Castor

{ Kayla Hunt - Keys }

{ Micah Higley - Sequoyah } APRIL 2012

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an c i er m gA n i n eig r e h t nd a U OR 32

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